China trumps Germany as world’s top tourism source market

CHINESE expenditure on travel abroad reached US$102 billion in 2012, recording a 40 per cent jump from 2011’s US$73 billion and clinching top spot as the world’s largest tourism source market in terms of spending.

This data by UNWTO puts China ahead of former top spender Germany and second-largest spender the US, as well as other countries such as Italy, Japan, France and the UK.

The sharp rise in expenditure is due to the increased volume of international trips by Chinese travellers (10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012), rapid urbanisation, rising disposable incomes, relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel and the appreciating Chinese currency, said the release.

Some of the other emerging markets that have increased their share of world tourism spend over the past decade include Russia, which saw an increase of 32 per cent in 2012 to US$43 billion, bringing it from seventh to fifth place in international tourism spending. Brazil shot up from 29th place in 2005 to 12th place last year with expenditure of US$22 billion.

“Emerging economies continue to lead growth in tourism demand,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai. “The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing middle class from these countries, which will surely continue to change the map of world tourism.”

Meanwhile, key traditional source markets also posted positive results – expenditure by Germany and the US grew six per cent, the UK posted four per cent, Canada crept up seven per cent, and both Australia and Japan inched up three per cent. France and Italy were the only markets in the top 10 to record a decline in spending, by six per cent and one per cent respectively.

Full data on international tourism expenditure will be published in the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, to be released end April.

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